Helping Barn Owls and Tansy Beetles

I’m not much of a carpenter, but during the last week I’ve put together the fittings for a barn owl box, following guidelines from the Barn Owl Trust. The idea is that a wooden batten, with wooden ‘hooks’ at each end, is nailed to the tree. Another batten is fixed to the back of the box and when the box is lifted into place it fits over the hooks. It can then be secured with screws.

The Barn Owl box, ready to go

On Saturday I met up with two of the other Allerthorpe Common volunteers. Between us we had a motley collection of tools, ladders and ropes, much of it caving gear! After some debate about which tree it was to go in, we fixed the tree batten, hauled up the box and secured it in place. With a little trimming of branches to give the owls a clear flight path, the box is ready for them to move into next spring. It was funded from Yorkshire Wildlife Trust’s barn owl appeal, which raised over £20000 in the spring, to help reverse the decline of Yorkshire’s barn owls.

Fitting the tree batten

Securing the box
Ready for the owls

On Saturday afternoon I took seven trays of home-grown Tansy plants to Fulford Ings and left them at the side of a field. On Sunday morning I returned with the wheelbarrow and tools so that we could transport the plants to a site near the river bank and plant them out.

Volunteers plant a new tansy clump

It got rather complicated logistically, as I had to meet some volunteers at the same time, but eventually plants and people came together. Nine of us planted 420 tansy plants in the course of the morning. There are Tansy beetles on clumps of Tansy nearby, so once these new clumps are established next year, there’s a good chance they’ll be occupied.

Adding the last few plants

Next year this will thicken to form a dense clump

Tansy Beetle (Chrysolina graminis)


  1. We are also looking to encourage more Tansy in Leeman Park, just up river from you.


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